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Covington man pleads guilty to smuggling 117 illegal aliens in tractor-trailer
Faces 10 years in prison after fleeing Texas checkpoint north of Mexico border in February

LAREDO, Texas  — A Covington man admitted in federal court Monday he tried to smuggle 117 undocumented immigrants in a tractor-trailer past a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas in February.

Jonathan Kyle Price, 42, pleaded guilty Monday, July 26, to a charge of Conspiracy to Transport Undocumented Aliens in U.S. District Court in Laredo. 

Price admitted he agreed to smuggle 117 aliens past a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 35, according to information from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Texas. 

He was allowed to remain on bond pending an October sentencing hearing where he faces up to 10 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated in a news release.

An arrest affidavit stated Price arrived at the checkpoint and told authorities he was hauling a load of produce, according to a report by Transportation Nation Network.

The checkpoint on I-35 was about 29 miles north of Laredo, which is on Mexican border.

"However, he drove away before his immigration inspection was complete," the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

Court documents said the tractor-trailer proceeded to leave the checkpoint "driving erratically and bypassing other tractor-trailers by cutting them off,” Transportation Nation Network reported.

Law enforcement pursued "and quickly stopped him," the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

After they stopped the tractor-trailer, officers said Price was “verbally resistant” to commands but eventually complied with instructions to return to the checkpoint, Transportation Nation Network reported.

"A service K-9 then detected an odor within the trailer. Authorities conducted a thorough inspection and found 117 undocumented aliens," the U.S. Attorney's news release stated.

Price later told authorities he was surprised to learn he was hauling undocumented immigrants when he believed he was hauling narcotics 160 miles north to San Antonio, according to Transportation Nation Network.

He said he had been paid $25,000 to haul drugs previously and was promised the same amount again, it reported.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will sentence Price Oct. 25, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.